Tag Archives: shirley maclaine

Wild Oats

Eva is a grieving widow who doesn’t even get through her husband’s funeral before her daughter is reminding her of unpaid hospital bills and a home that isn’t worth much before significant sprucing. So can we really blame her when she cashes the 50K insurance cheque even though it’s accidentally made out for 5 million? Nope!

Eva (Shirley MacLaine) vanishes into the night with her friend Maddie (Jessica Lange), their eyes set on a luxury resort in Spain. Maddie is sick, her days numbered, and her Wild-Oats_poster_goldposter_com_2-702x336husband’s just left her for a secretary a fraction of her age. Eva’s been caring for her sick husband for a long time, so washes away her guilty feelings with generous dosages of mojitos and embraces the mistake, determined to live it up. These two chiquitas have nothing to lose so it’s all blackjack and boy toys until a) a dashing Billy Connolly enters the picture and b) the fuzz are on their tail. Well, not so much the fuzz as the insurance company trying to reclaim their losses, but you get the picture.

Is this a brilliant movie? No it isn’t. It’s kind of like Going In Style for old biddies, an adventure for senior citizens that’s exactly as predictable as you’d think. Lange and MacLaine are ludicrously charming but they deserve better material. They’re able to polish a few pieces of coal into diamonds thanks to their professionalism and gung-ho spirit, but for every high, there’s a low. I found it a perfectly inoffensive time-waster, but this movie will really only appeal to people who always wondered what How Stella Got Her Groove back would be like if Stella was an 84 year old white lady.

 

 

Asshole Ethics 101: would you cash the cheque, or report it?

 

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The Last Word

the last word 2So, Harriet (Shirley MacLaine) likes things done a certain way. She gets so impatient with those who can’t follow her instructions that she often winds up having to do everything herself as she frequently pushes her gardener, cook, and hairdresser aside. So it should come as not surprise that she would want final say on her own obituary.

Enter Anne (Amanda Seyfried), the aspiring writer who Harriet hires to write her obituary. It’s not an easy job. Not just because Harriet is a demanding micro-manager. Despite all her considerable success, everyone Anne interviews about her-even her priest- hates her. So an 81 year-old who’s spent her life being nasty to people sets out to use the time she has left to rewrite her own history, dragging the almost-always exasperated Anne along for the ride.

If you’ve heard of this movie at all, by now you’ve probably heard that it’s pretty bad. And it really kind of is. But I honestly think there is a really good idea for a movie hidden somewhere within this unapologetically trite screenplay. One of the movie’s better scenes features a hilariously confident Harriet barging in on an independent radio station making a shockingly effective case for why she should be hired as a DJ. They give her a chance and it’s kind of awesome.

the last wordIn the right hands, a dramedy featuring the 82 year-old MacLaine playing an unlikely host of a radio show for hipsters could be a lot of fun, which The Last Word generally isn’t. More importantly though, making this subplot the actual plot might have given the movie some much-needed focus. Because for a movie about making every moment count, The Last Word has an astonishing number of throwaway scenes and uninspired subplots.

So in a comedy with no real focus except that Life is Precious So Don’t Waste It, it falls on its stars to keep it watchable. And although “watchable” may be a strong word for a movie like this, MacLaine’s still got it. Actually, to carry any movie in your 80s is pretty impressive and I give her full credit for finding a way to breathe some life into a character that would otherwise have been too vaguely written to be interesting. Seyfried isn’t exactly bad so much as she just doesn’t do anything to really help make Anne stand out from any of the other Millennials who have learnt valuable and unexpected life lessons from seniors in the movies lately.

MacLaine does impressive wok but neither the script or her co-stars are there to back her up.

 

 

Dance Movies: The Rejects…er, I mean, The Leftovers

Not all dance movies are created equal.

Although I was a graceful and gifted dancer myself, when I was three and thought tutus were the object of pure happiness, I cannot confess to a love of ballet (although I recently took one in at the Nation Arts Centre, based on Margaret Atwood’s dystopian sci-fi novel The Handmaid’s Tale, which was exactly as bad as it sounds) or of ballet movies. I watched The Turning Point with an almost open mind because Anne Bancroft! Shirley MacLaine! But still I felt kinopoisk.ruoverwhelmingly meh. I mean, the dynamic between the two women was pretty great. Shirley MacLaine was a ballerina herself but she gave it up to marry and have children (and possibly to prove that her dancer boyfriend wasn’t gay). Her friend has the career she always envisioned for herself, but now that the friend is getting older, she’s also getting edged out of the company (and by Shirley MacLaine’s daughter, irony of ironies). So both have regret, both sort of envy the other’s life. But there’s just an awful lot of ballet in there (excerpts from 7). For fans of Sex and the City, it’s kind of fun to see Carrie’s Russian do the thing we always knew he did, but the novelty wore off for me quickly and it just kept going (although also interesting that SJP is a mainstay of these dance movies as well!)

Girls Just Want To Have Fun is the SJP movie you forget to be glad you’ve never seen. You haven’t seen it, have you? She plays this kid who’s new in town and wants nothing more than to make it on “Dance TV” so her new friend Helen Hunt (who apparently always sounded like somebody’s 40ish bitter ex-wife) convinces her to try out. Turns out she’s a dancer AND a girls-just-want-to-have-fun-4gymnast, which means there’s going to be some truly putrid body double work each and every time her character decides to turn a cart-wheel – and she decides it A LOT. Oh the leotards, the leg warmers, the big hair, and Helen Hunt’s pineapple earrings. Oh, and a 12 year old Shannen Doherty before she got her Hollywood teeth. What’s not to love? Everything! Everything is not to love, but especially the title, which bears no relation to the film, other than wanting to use the song, but not the actual Cyndi Lauper version, which might have made sense. This girl just wanted it to end.

Baz Luhrmann likes to call Strictly Ballroom the first in his Red Curtain trilogy (along with Romeo + Juliet, and Moulin Rouge!) but if you’re expecting anything like those other movies, boy are you ballroomin for some stinging disappointment. No recognizable actors, no recognizable tunes. It’s just a generic ugly duckling story, but will boring ballroom dancing. A plain novice dancer pairs up with an experienced but experimental dancer to win a championship that their unorthodox moves render them technically ineligible for. And if you think regular ballroom dancing’s boring, wait until the power goes out and the music fails. Sean fell totally and completely asleep.

First Position is a documentary I caught on Netflix. I actually quite enjoyed it as it follows young ballet dancers trying to get noticed by prestigious schools and dance companies. I was particularly struck by the parents – sure there are your typical dance moms who cry at the very firstthought of their kids choosing childhood over ballet, but there’s also a dad who took a 6 month tour of duty in Iraq rather than a 2 year stint on a naval base where his son wouldn’t be able to train, and a mother who stays up late dyeing the “flesh” coloured parts of her daughter’s costumes brown, to match her skin. These kids are super dedicated and we see a lot of the sacrifices their families make to get them where they are, but in this case I might argue that we didn’t see enough ballet – or at least not enough to understand why some failed while others succeeded.